Hi all. Forgive my just jumping in here, but I have been doing tons of reading here and have had a few "AHA!" moments that I think have helped clarify the last 2 weeks of my life, but would love some input into my own situation.
A week ago, my ADHD-diagnosed-but-undertreated [ex]-boyfriend announced that he wanted to breakup. Entirely unexpected at the time, but in hindsight, I maybe saw it coming.
Here is my background (this is terribly long, for which I apologize - brevity is not my strong suit, especially when try to summarize a year of events...):
I am a pediatrician with an interest in psychiatry, so ADHD is not an entirely unfamiliar beast to me. In addition, my mother and multiple family members are ADD (though not ADHD and probably more mild on the spectrum), and I have several friends with ADHD who are well-treated and highly successful, including in relationships. I knew my ex was ADHD early on in the relationship, but based on my personal experiences (which led me to do less research/reading than I might have otherwise), probably under-estimated the effect this might have on our relationship. Not sure if this is relevant, but I am 31 and my ex is 25. He initially came off as very mature with a good head on his shoulders and as someone eager to get married and start a family (lots of talk from him about how he would raise children, what he thought about how a marriage should look, etc.), so despite my initial hesitation with the age difference, I quickly stopped really thinking about it at all.
The first few months of dating (a year ago) were halting - he wouldn't call or text for many days and occasionally even a week at a time, even after 3 or 4 dates - when I asked, he said he wanted to take things slowly and didn't really realize how many days had gone by sometimes, and having had whirlwind-but-failed relationships in the past, I went along with it. But once he committed, BOOM! Hyperfocus. He wanted to be with me all the time, was constantly doing things for me, super attentive and sweet. I was totally smitten, and totally in love was not far behind. He was so sweet and caring, and his spontaneity seemed a good balance to my constant planning/overanalysis. In many ways, he helped me learn to stop and breathe and trust more fully. When I had concerns or was annoyed by something, he took the conversations in stride and I felt like we really had good communication, even about difficult things.
I knew that despite his dream of becoming a musician (and we lived in a city HIGHLY favorable for pursuing that career), he had struggled to really make headway in that vein for several years, but as he had been working steadily and seemed to have a plan for that part of his dreams, it didn't concern me. I saw that he was a do-er, in that he was able to get short-term (a day or a week-long) projects done efficiently and well, and figured that he just hadn't had the time to devote to the longer-term stuff. About 4 months into our committed relationship (7 months after our first date), he decided to move back home (800 miles away) for "a few months" to save some money with plans to move back to where I lived after he had saved some money and had some time to prep a demo/EP CD for distribution once he got back. It seemed like a not-unreasonable plan to me - I am quite stable financially, but we have moral/religious opposition to living together prior to marriage and I respected his desire to save money in order to be able to contribute to household finances despite the instability a music career can bring.
At first, it seemed like long-distance was going to be hard but do-able. We saw each other every 2-3 weeks, he would sporadically send me flowers or other sweet things and constantly was telling me how much he missed me (and I him!). A couple months into the separation, it became clear to me that this was not going to be "just a few months", but more like 6 - or so he said. I said I understood that things do not always go as planned, and remained calm and relatively unconcerned. 3 months into the long distance, we attended a wedding of one of his friends in a different city and had our first truly blow-out fight. I felt like we talked through it well, but in hindsight, that was where things began to shift.
Prior to that weekend, he would routinely call 4-5 times per day, sometimes just for 5 minutes at a time to tell me he missed me and was thinking about me. I never doubted that he wanted to be with me and that in absence of being with me, he wanted to talk to me, keep me apprised of his day, etc. 2-3 weeks following that weekend, he found some extra work with a business man who shares many of his hobbies (true to ADHD form, this are high-stim activities like dirt bikes and wakeboarding), and rapidly became devoted to helping this man out whenever he needed, often working all night to complete a project for him, despite the fact that these projects were almost entirely self-directed with no true deadline.
Shortly after starting the new work (in addition to his more structured retail job), he went on a trip and didn't contact me for over 24 hours, which was completely out of the norm. (Just a month prior he had become very concerned after I had failed to call him within a few hours of a missed call from him - despite my insisting that his call had not registered on my phone, because he was sure that either I had been injured or I was mad at him for some reason.) But after he didn't contact me for 24 hours, when I finally called him late at night because I was so worried something had happened to him, I was admonished for being needy and told I should probably get used to not hearing from him regularly sometimes, because if he was successful in music and went on tour, he might not have time to contact me. This hurt me deeply (there were some issues in my past that magnified this, which he was aware of), and when I cried to him about how much that hurt my feelings, he seemed cold and aloof. He eventually told me rather matter-of-factly that he could understand why that might hurt my feelings, but maintained the attitude that he would only be making the effort to contact me in such situations because I was needy, and not because it was a normal thing to expect in a relationship.
From there - in hindsight - things went downhill. He began working more and more hours for the new job on top of his retail job, probably working 40 hours straight without sleeping 2 or 3 times a week. (His family physician had started him back on Adderall, which he hadn't taken since high school, the month before). When I expressed concern that this was not healthy, he told me it was only going to be for a short time, that he would go part time at his retail job at the beginning of the year, and things would calm down.
Mid-November, he came to visit me and we had another huge blowup fight, this time about him staying over at a friend's house all night to play video games. The fight wasn't actually about the video game playing - I had given my blessing for him to stay all night. But when he called me at 11 to tell me he was coming home, then failed to appear for an hour (he was 10 minutes away), I became increasingly worried and called. Four times, he didn't pick up, and when he finally did, he informed me that he was staying the night, he was too drunk to drive, and I was being demanding by asking him to come back and had no reason to be so upset, because he was so involved in the video game - which he restarted after telling me he was coming back - that he couldn't possibly be expected to be held responsible for his lack of communication. He hung up the phone on me that night and refused to pick up, then didn't contact me again until almost noon the next day, despite the fact that he had my car and I was stuck at the house. He finally reappeared and was surprised when I insisted we stay at home for lunch so that we could talk. Again, I was so upset I was in tears, crying in front of him, and he remained cold and distant, insisting that I didn't understand how he needed to spend time with his friends and how I needed to reconsider how I responded to him when I was angry (which was not entirely untrue, to be fair to him). We talked through it, including revealing some pretty heavy things from both of our pasts that played into the argument, and felt like we eventually communicated well through it.
For Thanksgiving, our families were meeting for the first time - his insistence - which I thought was a pretty big deal. By this time, we had discussed marriage several times, with me making it clear that if after a year to 18 months of dating he "wasn't sure", then we needed to reconsider what we were doing. He had continually reassured me that he wasn't "wasting my time", and that he was just trying to make sure we were making the right decision before moving forward (we both come from homes with divorce but believe strongly in the institute of marriage being a lifetime committment). So while I didn't expect a Thanksgiving proposal, I also viewed it as a step in that direction.
Just prior to traveling to his home for Thanksgiving, he informed me in no uncertain terms that he was likely going to HAVE to work while I was there. I told him I knew he had to do the retail job, given Black Friday and all, but since his other job was more self-directed, and his boss was also a friend, wouldn't he have more flexibility there? He told me no, that he still had to work for him, it was a job, I just needed to understand, etc. At the same time, he was working on an independent business startup with a friend. He had spent a lot of the time when he came to visit me earlier that month doing online reseach for it, so I was already aware of how that was occupying his time.
What I didn't realize was that after being alone at home with his parents all morning while he worked retail, then alone with both sets of our parents in the afteroon/evening, he would be staying late at the non-retail job to "finish a project", then meeting his business partner at the house to "go over things for like an hour" - except that in the end, the business partner came to dinner with us and then was at the house until late in the evening "doing research". When I became upset at the total lack of interest he seemed to have in spending time with me - even though I understood he had a lot on his plate, and wasn't really mad at him, just disappointed that so many things had popped up and interrupted our time - I was told (once more) that I had been warned that he needed to be working while I was there, and so I just needed to get used to it.
Then, he managed to get "the whole day" off on Sunday as a surprise, and was excited to be able to "spend the whole day together". When I asked if we could spend an hour or two having lunch with an old friend of mine whom I hadn't seen in a couple years and whom I wanted him to meet (and whom I already told I would come see since I thought he would be working), he became upset and protested that he wanted it to be "just us" that day. I backed off and didn't mention it again, but when his non-retail boss called him early Sunday morning (waking us up) and wanted to have breakfast and a business meeting in 20 minutes, he accepted without hesitation, saying that I would be coming along, without even discussing it with me. When I told him I was upset because not only did he not ASK me what I would like to do, but he had turned down seeing my friend because he was so insistent on having the whole day for "just us", he hastily told me he wanted to have lunch with my friend, and then still couldn't understand why I was upset about the breakfast. I opted out of breakfast, and he went off with promises to come back with food for me - he would call from the restaurant to give me my options and get a carryout order for me to eat before church. Except that he didn't. When he arrived back in the nick of time to leave for church, and I was upset because he had totally failed to follow through on breakfast, he told me that I was being silly and he intended to stop and pick something up for me on the way. I literally could not stop crying on the way to church (in addition to all the emotion of the weekend, I had JUST moved an entire house essentially alone and was already feeling stressed and lonely, so I think I had just hit my limit) and continued crying halfway through the service, and once again, he was cold and distant, not really seeming bothered at how hurt I was.
I had recovered myself by the end of church, and we went to have lunch with my friend. After that, we went to the mall so I could return something for him (long story), and then it was back to his house to have family dinner. All-told, we probably spent 3 "just us" hours together, most of which was in the car and none of which felt like especially quality time.
I left the next morning. We thought we would be able to see each other between Thanksgiving and New Year's, but retail is a bad place to work if you want any time off during that time, and our schedules just couldn't make it work. I had moved just before Thanksgiving, and he had lots of ideas about how he wanted to help out in my new place, and expresssed frustration that he wasn't able to be there for me. Nevertheless, the phone calls became less frequent, but he was still calling once a day and every few days we'd have a lovely longer conversation. He would also go back to the "calling every time he had a few moments to say hi" pattern every few days. It was certainly less communication, but I attributed it to an increase in work on his end and a general "growing out of the honeymoon" phase. Certainly nothing to worry about. Normal growth and evolution of a relationship.
Over Christmas (which we were spending apart), he suddenly decided that he wanted to go to Chicago for New Year's. As I had already purchased my plane tickets to come to him that weekend, this was going to require a great deal of logistic-manipulation and money. Not only that, but we expected that he was going to be working on NYE until 4 pm, which didn't leave a lot of quality time in Chicago. He called me about this around 8 pm Christmas Eve, and I did a bunch of research that night (being the planner in the relationship) trying to find a way to make it work reasonably. When I called him at 9:30 to discuss it further, I got no answer, and despite repeated calls and texts, heard nothing from him.
The next morning after 10 am - after I finally gave up and called his parents' home number instead of his cell phone - I finally talked to him and was treated to a diatribe about how hard he was working and how tired he was and how annoying it was for people to call him when he was sleeping. Then when we talked about Chicago and how I felt it just wasn't really a reasonable plan, I got a speech about how I wasn't being spontaneous enough and didn't I want to have fun and he just wanted to get out of town. I stuck to my guns and said NO, I do not think this is a good idea, but told him if HE could find a way to do it, then he was to let me know (knowing full well that after the impulsivity died down and he looked into it himself, he would agree). That is, of course, what happened, but he remained a bit... snappy... about it for a couple days.
Nevertheless, in the days leading up to my arrival, he was sweet and flirty again, and my concerns died down. I continued to attribute it all to the excessive work/stress and told myself it would die down once he went part time at his retail job in the beginning of the year. However, I still got a lengthy "talking to" about how I "needed to understand" (this is a favorite phrase) that he would "likely have to work" while I was there, even on the days he wasn't working his retail job. And that I couldn't get upset again like I did at Thanksgiving just because he "had to work". When I asked again why that was, given the nature of his other job and the fact that it was, after all, a holiday, he went off on how it was his "responsibility" and that I clearly did not understand and did not respect this as a "real" job. When I told him I was concerned that his non-retail boss was taking advantage of his willingness to essentially be "on call" for him, he told me that he felt it was an even give-and-take relationship, as he appreciated the flexibility, the extra work, and the "perks" of getting to do the fun hobbies like dirt-biking and wake-boarding with this boss (and all his fancy equipment). I finally stopped trying, agreed that I would view this as a job and a responsibility, and do my best to not be upset if he ended up having to go in over the weekend).
Well. When I arrived, some significant family discord had gone down and just after picking me up from the airport, his car broke down. He had gotten the weekend off after all, and ended up having to spend a good chunk of each day (usually in the morning while I slept, as I was not feeling well) working on the cars. When he wasn't working on the car, he was researching how to fix the car. Even so, he was what I would call especially sweet with me - at NYE dinner he called me the best thing to happen to him in 2011, and spent one day catering to my every need, making me homemade chicken noodle soup, cooking me dinner, and generally ordering me to stay on the couch and get better. He was less affectionate than normal, and at one point said something to the effect of "I could get so much more done on the car if you weren't here and I didn't want to spend time with you," but I attributed that to the enormous stress of the weekend and him not wanting to catch my cold. Otherwise, I saw no major sign of impending doom. When I left, he told me several times (including a voicemail he left while I stood in line at airport security) how much he appreciated me and my support.
A couple days after returning home, we realized that the dates for a ski trip we had planned were not going to work out, and when I asked when I should come there instead for a vist (since he was going to be so busy with work and didn't want to travel), he said, "tomorrow". But over the next several days, his communication became so infrequent and strained that something just seemed... off. He would call once a day, seem distracted and like maybe he didn't really want to talk, and then talk for 5 minutes before saying, "I should let you go."
Finally, less than a week after he dropped me off at the airport, I asked him if there was something wrong. He said no, but that he did want to talk about some things in our relationship. Only he was too tired then and could it wait until tomorrow? I asked him if I should be worried, he said no. I said that was fine, as he sometimes needs time to process big things, and asked that he think about something that had been bothering me (again, trying to give him processing time), and told him that when he was really busy lately, the way that he talked to me sometimes made me feel like just another item on a to-do list. He opted to take that into a full discussion that lasted 2 hours, the bottom line being him saying: my priority right now is my financial/career goals [despite having lived at home for 6 months by this point, he had failed to really save any money or accomplish any of the music goals he wanted to], you are no longer my priority [his exact words], I cannot give you what you want/need, that isn't fair to you, I want to break up.
This, obviously, was devastating to hear and I immediately lost it, sobbing into the phone that I did not understand, didn't you just tell me that I didn't have anything to be worried about, didn't you just say I was the best thing to happen to you in 2011, what are you talking about? Finally, I recovered myself enough to say: if you want to break up, I will no longer be a part of your life, is that what you want? This clearly upset him - he accused me of giving him an ultimatum, that he never said he wanted me out of his life. I told him it wasn't an ultimatum, it's what I would need to do to survive, and said if that's not what he meant, then he needed to think about what he really wanted and get back to me. He agreed, and told me we would talk the following evening at 10, when he would be out of a mandatory work meeting.
At 10:40 the next night, I hadn't heard from him, so I texted him and asked if we were still going to talk that night. He texted back and said he was too tired, could we do it tomorrow? I said that was fine, even though I was pretty upset (but not wanting to push him into the "you don't understand!" diatribe), but asked for a general time to expect the conversation. He told me he couldn't give me a time, that he was "super busy" starting at 5:30 am. I told him that wasn't really fair, he pushed back again with "I'm busy". I called, thinking it would be easier to talk than text, and he wouldn't pick up.
He did not call the following day at all. I didn't contact him. The day after that, I heard nothing from him until 12:30 am, when he texted to tell me that "he knew we hadn't talked" and suggested the following night at 8 pm, when he expected to be done with some things for his new business.
At 11 pm the following night - 3 hours after our supposed phone date - he texted to inform me that he was headed to the ER because a friend of his was there and might be having surgery. I responded that I was sorry, but that I had expected to hear from him 3 hours ago, and was he just now able to contact me? I got not response, and so tried to call him. He didn't pick up. An hour later, I texted asking him what was going on (again). 45 minutes after that (so 12:45 am), he texted back that he was "helping his dad out with something". At this point, I was livid, as he was clearly just avoiding me now, and called him until he picked up the phone. There was immediately yelling, with me accusing him of lying about having to go to the ER (he claimed shortly after he texted he found out that the friend was several hours away and the situation wasn't as dire as they thought), then the yelling started and he launched into, "You need to understand how busy I am" and me saying, "Why don't you realize how much this is hurting me?". He hung up on me, then texted me and said he was willing to talk, but that he would not tolerate yelling and I "needed to listen". I told him the same.
So he called. What proceeded was 2 and a half hours of completely circuitous conversation. His first response to me was that he had TOLD me how his priority was no longer me, why did I expect him to make time to talk to me? Didn't I understand the situation? Hadn't he explained it clearly? No matter how many times I told him how much I hurt, or how unhealthy I thought what he was doing to himself was (still pulling 30-40 hours of work several times a week with little-to-no sleep), or how I thought there was something wrong because (as a doctor) I knew plenty of people with tons of work committments who managed to have healthy and fulfilling relationships in addition to achieving their career goals, he continued to insist that his priority now HAD to be these financial/career goals - goals which quite frankly, seem like a setup for failure in their grandiosity and in his desire to achieve them all both immediately and simultaneously. Especially given that they were essentially the same goals he's had for the past year and has not made any perceptible progress in achieving them. And he continued to insist that because these goals were his priorty, and NOT ME, it was only fair to let me go. When I asked him what some of his trusted advisers thought of these things, he told me outright, "They think I am doing too much, but I'm not listening to them, probably because I'm stubborn."
When I once again told him that breaking up = no longer being in his life, he became unhappy again. I finally said, "what it sounds like you want is to not have any obligation to me but to still be friends, is that right?" He agreed rather eagerly that that is what he wanted, and I told him again that would not be happening. I tried to get him to clarify his feelings for me, thinking maybe that would help him see how ridiculous the "just friends" thing was, but despite acknowledging that his feelings for me were far more than platonic, he couldn't see it, continuing to say that even if his feelings hadn't really changed his "passion for the relationship" was no longer there.
But he still hadn't explicitly said, "OK, even if it means you are totally out of my life, I want to break up." He kept insisting that's not what he wanted, even though he could see that it wasn't fair to me to not be a priority in his life. Finally, I just said, "Being friends is not a choice. Your choice is to either re-evaluate your priorities and find a way to try to make this work, or to break up and have me out of your life. Do you choose your financial goals over this relationship, even if it means having me out of your life completely?" After several minutes, he simply said, "Yes."
And so there it was. The complicating factor is that he left behind TONS of crap at my house when he moved home - golf clubs, a painting by his recently deceased grandmother, a steamer trunk, etc - large items that will require a truck to move and a significant amount of space to store. I told him in no uncertain terms that he was responsible for coming to remove these items - not a friend or a relative, HIM. And I am certainly not lifting a finger - I moved all the crap FOR HIM, even packing some of it, when I moved in November.
So here is where I ask for input/advice:
- what I think happened is this: hyperfocus on new relationship --> relationship becoming more real/less exciting --> entrance of new boss with exciting toys and opportunity to make money --> shift of hyperfocus onto new boss/job/achieving financial goals --> realization that it is hard to hyperfocus on career and maintain a long distance relationship --> feelings of guilt, helplessness and inadequacy over lack of ability to maintain relationship --> increased irritation and guilt when partner points out hurt feelings --> resentment and feelings of obligation toward relationship further decreasing excitement --> sense that relationship is preventing progress in hyperfocused-goal --> decision to end relationship, despite still internally caring about partner
Does this sound like a reasonable explanation, and a progression that could occur in someone with severe and relatively untreated ADHD? Although he is on Adderrall, pharamaceutical intervention is pretty much the only treatment he's ever had. His mom homeschooled him the majority of his elementary/middle school years, and attributes ADHD to "distraction from Satan," and thus has never really gotten him intervention beyond meds (so zero counseling/therapy/behavior mod). He is aware of his ADHD and acknowledges that it requires some maintenance like list-making and day planner reminders, but I don't think aware of all its emotional/relational implications (I certainly wasn't).
If people agree this is a reasonable explanation - is there a way that I can suggest to him that he seeks help before his life spirals further out of control? Despite my hurt and anger with him, I still love him (dammit), and while I agree that he has no business being in a relationship right now, and don't even know if I would consider a relationship with him in the future regardless of how much treatment he had, I think he deserves to get a chance to work on this and get to a point where he COULD have a relationship. I just don't know if there's a way for me to suggest that that he might actually HEAR - the latter part of our last conversation really was very calm and straightforward and unemotional on both ends (the benefit of him not talking to me for several days - I had time to gather my thoughts and calm down), and I was able to share my general sense of "something's not right, I think you need counseling of some kind", but I hadn't found this website yet and couldn't really pinpoint what I meant. Now I feel like I can - but can I relay that to him?? (I accept that I cannot force him into anything - but I can tell him what I see, and what I think would help him, and hope that maybe one day it will sink in...)
And on a more practical note - how do I handle him coming to get his stuff? He told me he would do it "soon", but I am no fool. In order to come get it, he needs to arrange a plane flight, a truck, and a storage space. He could barely handle a phone call. I am determined to hold him responsible for this, and it's honestly not in my way, but it would help my ability to move on to get it out sooner rather than later, if only because him coming to get it means seeing him one last time (which I would like for closure - I hate phone breakups). Are there communication tips/tricks that people have that won't just come across as me nagging him to death? The official breakup conversation was Thursday, and today would have been his first day off since then... how long is too long? I have friends who want me to give him an ultimatum ending with selling it all on Craig's list or taking it all to Goodwill by a certain time, but I don't think that is something he'll respond well too, and it's more effort than he is worth to do any of those things!
Alright. Y'all are ANGELS if you have read all this and responded. Seriously. I cannot tell you how helpful it has been to read all the different stories here - while some things I have read here are disheartening, and I am still totally devastated and heartbroken over losing this man, I can also see how I may have dodged a bullet if he persists with these patterns of behaviors and refuses to to seek help... but I can't help but encourage him to try, even if it won't restore our relationship in any way. I want him to have a chance at some of the happy relationships I've read about here. I will happily take into consideration any advice you have to offer...
I'm very sorry to hear about
Submitted by PoisonIvy on
I'm very sorry to hear about what you've been going through. I think that this might be ADHD plus. The plus is just plain inconsiderate, selfish, dare-I-say BAD behavior on your ex boyfriend's part. I don't know how best for you to communicate to him. Maybe edit your message above and share it with him?
As for the stuff, I think you should set a date (a month or two?), after which you will have the items hauled away. If money isn't a problem, hire someone to come get it. A nonprofit might pick up the stuff for free; Easter Seals does it in my neck of the woods.
First thing that came to mind
Submitted by SherriW13 on
First thing that came to mind was that you say that each 'big blow up' was handled in a great way and you communicated well...so you feel. There is a very common "saying what you want to hear just to end the conflict" aspect of ADHD and this could be what you are mistaking as things being handled in a mature, meaningful way.
Second, you're obviously a very educated and lovely lady with a LOT to offer someone...I have to ask myself why you're making it your responsibility to help this man. You can pretty much take what he has said to heart...meaning that he is telling you that you are not a priority in his life and aside from listening to his words, judge his commitment to you by his ACTIONS. They scream a lot louder than his words. They are telling you exactly what he is saying...and deep down you know this. You are trying to manipulate the situation by insisting that if he doesn't want a relationship with you, then he cannot have you in his life. Even if you agreed and said "ok, we are just friends and I will let you go" you would possibly never hear from him again. I recognize your attempt to manipulate him into not making this decision...as I am guilty of it myself. Making your 'relationship' conditional, is only prolonging your misery.
It is not your job to 'fix' him or help him make sure his life goals are met by making him your project. He is a grown man. Any progress he makes or changes he makes will only be lasting and make a difference for him if they come from WITHIN him. You can provide every resource in the world, it will change nothing for someone who is happy with their life. He will see any offers or information as you trying to manipulate him and rebel against it. Let him go and move on with your life.
Find a storage unit and have a few of your friends come pick up his stuff and put it in the storage unit. Have them send the bill directly to him at his parents house and be done with him and his poor treatment of you.
You have a choice...walk away and consider this a lesson learned...or keep fighting for someone who cannot give you what you want (no matter how he feels about you) and make yourself even more miserable. I would also recommend the book CoDependent No More by Melodie Beattie...the fact that you have tolerated his horrible behaviors and STILL want to be with him is something YOU need to work on. Again, I know this personally. (((HUGS)))
A few quick thoughts...will be back with more later
Submitted by Aspen on
Firstly, don't be surprised if he comes back around when his hyperfocus wears off on this new job/high stimulations hobbies. Consider what you really want and how invested you are willing to be in his chaos cause he clearly feels no compunction about making both your lives 'all about him' right now.
Secondly, I have read several times....not sure where the reference is....that developmentally people with ADHD are 30% behind their peers. I didn't meet the man who became my husband until he was in his mid 20s and we weren't romantic until he was in his late 20s, but through our discussions and his talking about how long he had interests in gaming and other things my brother mostly grew out of at a late teen/early 20 year old, this 30% rule definitely held true in his case.......and my husband is ADD (no H) and is on the more mild spectrum. He is so much milder than normal that his p-doc is experimenting with taking him off with his meds all but on an 'as needed' basis....something I am not fully in support of but that is another story :)
If you think of his behavior as coming more from someone who is developmentally 18-20 years old it makes a lot more sense. He seems to have a great work ethic.....good news.......but little to no impulse control........really bad news as his work situation is what can result from that :(
I think things started to go downhill after that first big fight.......you fell off his pedastal (had to happen sometimes) and he has never had the same commitment to the relationship. He is at a time in his career/his hopes for a career (which his ADHD might mean will make never happen) are his focus and priority and he has realized he really stinks at trying to have 2. You can make your peace with where things stand in your relationship by realizing that this is normal for a man at the beginning of a career, but since he's been focusing on it now for 6 months supposedly and gone nowhere.......he probably won't get there without a lot more help.
You may very well have dodged a bullet.......but I know for sure it doesn't help the way you feel right now as you are still in love with him and grieving the loss of your dreams for this relationship. I am sure he isn't a bad guy, but right now he is a BAD prospect of a partner........he is all about him. He hasn't been about you for more than 6 months.
As far as his stuff.......still mulling that one over
Submitted by sadheart on
To Rose - I ABSOLUTELY agree with the "plus" comment. One thing I meant to say in my novel was that while I can see how a lot of these issues/behaviors originated with his ADHD, it is HIS responsibility as to how he handles them. Outside of our relationship, he is clearly not a man incapable of empathy and compassion (and in fact is pretty sacrificial in his giving of time/money to his friends, often to his detriment), so his callousness and downright cruelty is not to be blamed on the ADHD. He is perfectly aware of what he is doing, he just chooses to act otherwise.
To Sherri - I think I may have misrepresented my intentions/wishes in regards to our relationship - I am, for all intents and purposes, done with him. I said what I did to him in terms of "this is your choice, I am in your life or out of it" knowing full well what choice he was going to make, but at that point in our conversation, it was pretty clear to me that he was trying to manipulate ME into breaking up with him to avoid being the bad guy, so I made the decision to force him to frame it as his choice. I speak about helping him only in the sense that unlike him, I do have some compassion for how difficult dealing with ADHD must be, especially when it has been treated like "no big deal" your entire life, and so I am willing to make one (ONE) statement to him directly to that effect in our parting - not because I believe it will change him now, but because maybe in some time he will remember it and get help. It may be entirely futile, but all things considered, I think worthwhile to at least try. I firmly believe that grace and restoration in relationships are for everyone, no matter how terrible, but not in the sense that we will be having a relationship again, ever. But because I love him, I wish for him that he might find that grace and restoration at some point.
To Aspen - I have certainly thought about what I would do if he ever decided to hyperfocus back to me again, and honestly, I think I would never be able to accept any offers of re-starting our relationship because of my knowledge of what things are like when the hyperfocus is over/shifted. I don't think I can ever trust him in my life like that again. So I have no intention of re-engaging in any kind of relationship with him. I've made it clear to him that we are not friends, and do not ever intend to be more than that. The maturity thing absolutely makes sense, and is actually what some friends and I concluded in a discussion the other day. And just like an 18-20 year old, he believes that "he knows best" and refuses to listen to anyone - all while claiming that he is far more mature than he actually is.
For now I am dealing with his stuff by totally ignoring it. It's not in my way, and God knows after a year of serious dating that no matter what I do, there will always be something around to remind me of him, so emotionally it's really a moot point. If it's still here in a month and I haven't heard from him, I'll reevaluate.
Thanks to everyone for input... keep it coming if you have more thoughts!! It is truly helpful to know that I am not alone in my experience nor am I crazy...
Answers to your questions
Submitted by MagicSandwich on
That was a great explanation. I feel for your broken heart very intensely. So to answer your questions, here goes.
Does this sound like a reasonable explanation, and a progression that could occur in someone with severe and relatively untreated ADHD? Yes.
Is there a way that I can suggest to him that he seeks help before his life spirals further out of control?
No – not in any guaranteed way that will make him ‘hear’ you.
I think he deserves to get a chance to work on this and get to a point where he COULD have a relationship. I just don't know if there's a way for me to suggest that that he might actually HEAR.
No, there isn’t a way to speak to him where he would "get it". If for some reason he did hear something poignant from you, there’s no assurance he will take action or even remember your words a few months out.
I was able to share my general sense of "something's not right, I think you need counseling of some kind", but I hadn't found this website yet and couldn't really pinpoint what I meant. Now I feel like I can - but can I relay that to him??
You can say what needs to be said and direct him to this website, but the answer is still no regarding any guarantee in his comprehension.
And on a more practical note - how do I handle him coming to get his stuff? He told me he would do it "soon", but I am no fool.
If you can lift a finger for him one last time, pack it all in a storage unit and send him the bill & precise details via registered mail. He can either retrieve his stuff from the storage space (rather than your house) or let it be sold at auction.
Are there communication tips/tricks that people have that won't just come across as me nagging him to death?
No. You will sound like a nag no matter what you say because the person at the other end of the conversation has unmanaged ADHD.
I'm sorry I know that's not what you wanted to hear just as none of this business with ADHD ex-boyfriend is what you had planned for in your early 30s. Just trust in the fact that it will get better for you and the dissociative feelings of being in outer space that have come into your life will fade over time.
I agree...NO to all of the
Submitted by SherriW13 on
I agree...NO to all of the questions...because that is the heart and soul of untreated ADHD...'getting it' is not something ANYONE can 'make' them do. I have (along with MANY OTHERS HERE) spent countless YEARS of my life 'rephrasing' , 'nagging', 'reasoning with', 'explaining in neutral terms', and generally trying 'just one more time' to say the magic words that are going to make my DH 'get it' that his ADHD is destructive to everyone in his path, especially those who love him, and hoping he would finally get help. IT DOES NOT WORK. I can almost guaruntee he will see it as nothing more than you trying to control him and/or blame him for the failed relationship...and nothing more. Introspection is extremely difficult for someone with untreated ADHD. It is easier to blame the rest of the world than to see fault of their own.
Thank you Sadheart
Submitted by confusedallthetime on
I am so sorry for what you went through but after reading your post and just reading some of the other post on this site I realize that I am not alone. I just got out of a long term relationship that ended badly and after taking a year off from seeing anyone else I started dating a guy that i later found out had ADHD. I never really knew how that effect people in their relationships I just knew people with it had attention problems (little did i know!). But my boyfriend (now ex... just recently) had so many of the same traits you described and i kept feeling like i did something wrong, even though he would tell me how much he cares for me and how I did everything right. I am so confused and heart broken because I thought we were so happy and he broke up with me over the tiniest thing so it just came out of left field. Its not the first time he blew up at me and his temper just sway so easily from one minute to the next. I am still muddling though everything that happened so i don't have much advice to give because I still don't understand why we broke up but I just want to thank you for posting your story because at least i know I'm not alone in dealing with how heart breaking it to be with someone who has ADHD. The biggest thing i wish i can do is talk to him and make him understand how much he really hurt me but the problem is, its so hard to talk to him. When I try to talk to him he just gets upset because he thinks I'm accusing of... I'm not even sure what... just accusing, attacking, is some of the terms he use. Sigh, we had such happy times together i just wish he wouldn't throw it all away so casually. I know he said he tried and I can tell he did but he just said it was to much for him and that he can't do it. Even though at times he says he want more time with me but then at other times he says he wake up and would just want me gone (he never said that to me, until during our breakup talk) and I don't understand how that can be. How can you want to be with someone all the time during one minute and then want them gone the next? I am just trying to gain an understanding on our break up because I am hoping that it will help me get over it. I know this is starting to look more like rambling then just a comment but right now everything still feels jumble in my head and I am trying to make sense of it.
First off, hang in there. The
Submitted by SearchingForPeace on
First off, hang in there. The end of a relationship is the worst.
Second, I think we have a lot in common and your story rings true to my own, although mine went down a different path. Plus I'm also near your age, so young professional, relatively put together, etc. Plus my husband went undiagnosed because he was homeschooled in a very strict, Christian family who didn't believe in illnesses, etc. We too have done the live apart relationship thing.
Your relationship has some eerie echoes to the relationship I have with my husband. He was wonderful when we dated but once we were married, it went down hill from there. While we dated, he was hyperfocused on me almost exclusively. He had a good job that he loved and we compromised on how he spent his off time. I was very independent when we met and dated. I liked my alone time and so it was easy to do things separately and together. There were multiple occasions when I couldn't get him on the phone, but he was generally good natured about my worry. He would explain the situation and say that he was sorry, etc.
Once we were married however, things were not good. He became very distant for one. Now he lost his job a few days before we got married and he took it very hard. I tried to give him time to grieve and get things together, but when he went past what I considered the normal time for this process, I got very impatient. We spent the last year of our dating relationship and the first 6 months of marriage about an hour apart. I'm sure there was some concern on my part about him not spending enough time with me, there may have been fights, but that time pales in comparison to what happened once we were under the same roof. He was extremely moody, he slept all day, would make no say in any our joint decisions...it was like he checked out. He was obviously depressed but refused to acknowledge it. We fought constantly; we lived about 1 1/2 hour away from our families and "old" friends, so he was constantly contriving to be back there with his friends. He would leave me when I really felt like I needed him the most and I felt like he didn't care about me. I soon slipped into a deep depression and had to be put on meds and see a counselor every week for six months. He refused to acknowledge that there were problems with us, which made things more difficult. When he did find work, he would "hide" money from me. I would ask for a contribution to the household expenses based on one figure, only to find out that he could have contributed more because he made more. We soon were living apart again which was probably good because we would have ended up divorced. He went through two more jobs and was either fired or conveniently laid off because he couldn't control his anger and he was constantly late. It was during this time that we discovered that he had ADD. He got on meds briefly but when he lost his job, we couldn't afford the medication. But once he was off the medication, he was forced to confront the fact that he had to be more responsible for himself. He's worked in a dead-end type of a job for over a year now, but he gets there on time mostly. He learned tricks to make himself better. He's back on meds now so between that and the personal framework he has built up has made him better. Unfortunately, he does have a tendency to burn his candle at both ends. He too will go days with no sleep and then just crash. When the crash comes, nothing else matters.
I think altogether, we have only spent about 9 months under the same roof in almost 4 years of marriage. Part of it has been the distance and part of it has been not having the will to fight to be together. But I can say, that after all of this, we have been in marriage counseling for a few months now and things are looking up. But something happened in my husband. He made the decision to change on his own, and the counseling only cemented his will to make things better for himself and for us. This week, we are moving back in together. I won't lie and say that I think it's going to a bed of roses, but I hope with continued counseling, we will do better this time around.
I say all of this for one point: there is absolutely NOTHING you can do to get him to change or otherwise make a decision to take care of himself. He has to do it on his own. Maybe losing you will be his wake-up call. Maybe not. Go ahead and suggest that he gets some help, but he needs to understand that it won't have any bearing your relationship/friendship. He needs to do it for himself because otherwise any other reason may eventually breed resentment in him.
Regarding the logistics of getting his stuff, you should give him a specific amount of time to retrieve and/or the opportunity to send money so you can package it up for him. If he doesn't respond by the deadline, I would then say you have X amount of time and if you don't, I will donate your stuff to Goodwill. That is fair enough. Ms. Orlov suggests that you set goals for ADD folks. I've used this with my husband and it works marginally well.
I know you may need closure (I'm the same way) but I think you should maintain your distance. If I was in your place, I think seeing him so soon afterwards would throw me into more emotional turmoil. I would definitely suggest that you give yourself some time and space away from him. If that means not taking his calls, then so be it. I think once you take yourself out of the situation, you will feel better yourself, your past and possibly future relationship, and him. I say 'future' because I sensed (or rather read between the lines) that you would be interested in getting back together if he showed the inclination to do so and to get help. I could be wrong though, so please forgive me if so.
Also, it seemed to me that you are taking on too much responsibility in all of this. It's his job to get his life in order. You seemed incredibly understanding, helpful, easy to get along with despite what your ex was trying to tell you. You are not needy. He needs to understand that there are consequences to his decisions. He can't have his cake and eat it to. He either loves you (and himself) enough to get some help and be committed to working out the relationship or he doesn't. If he doesn't, don't let it hurt you. You sound like a wonderful person with a lot to offer. If it wasn't you, it would be someone else.
To be honest, you may have been saved from future heartache. If me and my husband had cycled through all our bad stuff before we got married...well, it's an 'if.' It may have been better because I felt like I had more options (like you, I believe that marriage is a lasting commitment) or it may have been worse. Hindsight is always 20/20.
Best of luck to you.
A little hope...
Submitted by sadheart on
So, my ex and I talked for the first time since the break-up conversation the other night, at his request. I honestly had very low expectations - maybe an apology, maybe a discussion on when he would get his stuff. And I was skeptical that he would even call when he said he would.
He called within 5 minutes of our agreed upon time, and I could immediately tell he was different - his whole tone and approach was different.
He proceeded to tell me how about 3 days after our last conversation, he had realized that everything I had said was right - that he had lost sight of who he was , what was really important, and was working himself to death. That he needed to make some big changes in his life, and that wasn't going to happen in a week, but he was trying - he had cut back signinficantly on his work hours, found a way to delegate some of the work in his new business, and had started some counseling. He thanked me for speaking truth into his life and told me he was truly sorry for the pain he had caused me.
It was like talking to a different man. Which was honestly really hard, as one thing we both acknowldged was that we just don't know what the future holds for us - that it will be awhile before h's ready for a relationship again, and that while I can forgive him, I am not so sure about trusting him. And that while we are figuring those things out, it is too hard to have him in my life, and I have to keep living it and moving forward. I even mentioned what I had learned about ADHD and he asked me for resources and treatment ideas.
Throughout the conversation it was just really clear how much we care about each other, and how hard that makes this decision on both sides. I wish things were different on so many levels, but - they just aren't. So I will be grateful that in spite of all my doubts, he did hear me and is trying to make better choices and get help. And I will do my damnedest to move forward and on and trust that if we are to have any kind of relationship in the future, that will become clear in time - and that I will go into it with eyes wide open.
Caffeine him up
Submitted by ADDmama1 on
If you know he drinks coffee then schedule your next conversations when he has just had some. Or suggest he get a double espresso before he call ... maybe a red bull. These are a dear friend of most of us with ADD - (with the H or without it).
I was hyper-focused on my career and single for many years. It's a mixed bag. A tough situation. I wish you all the best.